From Viz Media, the publisher behind series such as Death Note, Ouran High School Host Club and Vampire Knight comes Itsuwaribito, a tale about a boy who tries to save people by lying.
The story of Itsuwaribito follows Utsuho, a young man living in a village of orphans that is run by a monk named Osho. Utsuho was taken in by Osho after his family was killed, Utsuho unknowingly gave the bandits everything they needed to sneak in and kill everyone. After the traumatic event Utsuho swore that he would no longer tell the truth, instead he would lie, thinking that it would be the only way to prevent something horrible from happening again.
Utsuho now spends his days slacking off and hiding from the monk so he doesn’t have to do chores, until the village is betrayed by an itsuwaribito, someone who is skilled at fighting, stealing and fooling people, named Iriya, who infiltrated the village as an orphan to scout and prepare for his gang to attack. Iriya and his gang slaughter everyone in the village leaving only the monk, injured, and Utsuho alive. Utsuho manages to trick the gang using a bomb and gets Osho to safety.
Sadly it is too late for the monk though and he soon dies, leaving Utsuho alone and unsure of what to do. He eventually makes to decision to continue on the monk’s work in his own way, while he won’t start his own village he promises to save 1000 lives. He will become an itsuwaribito himself, but instead of tricking innocents he will trick the people that wish to do them harm. One of the lives he soon saves is a talking tanuki named Pochi, whose mother was killed, that joins him in his journey.
All of these events happen very early on, but I don’t want to spoil too much of the story for you so all I will say is that Utsuho saves two lives and eventually gets caught up in a difficult situation helping a young doctor, named Koshiro, to save a town and its lord who have been fooled and overrun by a band of itsuwaribito.
Volume 1 ends with a cliffhanger but manages to do a good job of introducing the characters of the story. It is interesting to see how Utsuho manages to trick the various itsuwaribito that he comes across and manages to save the lives of the people involved. He makes a good anti-hero as you wouldn’t expect a liar and a cheat to be the one saving people, yet the story is told well enough to make it believable that he would.
The art is done well and the expressions fit the mood of each event and character just as they should, without going overboard. The translations are very good and aside from hearing how cool or uncool something is from Utsuho a lot all of the characters are likeable. The combat in the story is at times graphic, with blood and dismemberments, though most battles end quickly and don’t take up a large portion of the manga, which is nice as it gives more attention to the overall story.
At 192 pages the first volume isn’t very long, but about what you would expect for an average manga. The story though is great and easily holds the reader’s attention all the way through. For those manga fans that are looking for something new to read with comedy, great story and a bit of violence this is a series worth looking into and it will be interesting to see where the story goes in volume 2.
4.5 out of 5
Itsuwaribito Vol. 1
Story and Art by: Yuuki Iinuma
Age Rating: Older Teen
Number of Pages: 192
Release Date: December 14th, 2010
(A review copy of Itsuwaribito Vol.1 was provided by Viz Media.)